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Discoveries That Matter - Sarnia LambtonSmart 21 Community 2016
Business Programs for Youth

Are you interested in starting your own business? There are business programs to help young people up to 34 years of age. Find out more! >>

Sarnia-Lambton Interactive Map
To view our comprehensive interactive Sarnia-Lambton Maps click here.
Business Assistance Programs
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Starting a Business: FAQs

Starting a business: some frequently asked questions

What government funding is available?

The Canada Small Business Financing Program seeks to increase the availability of loans and capital leases for establishing, expanding, modernizing and improving small businesses. CSBF loans are available up to $500,000 for the purchase of assets. Apply at any chartered bank. Web site:
Numerous other small business programs are available from various departments and levels of government. These programs cover everything from wage subsidies and tax credits to export insurance and R&D research support. Contact the Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton for assistance at 519-332-1820 or e-mail.


Do I need to register a business name?

If you operate a proprietorship under your own personal legal name (e.g. Jane Smith), you do not have to register your name. If you identify your business by any other name, adjective or description, or if you have a partnership or a corporation, you must register its name. See "Register Your Business".


Where do I register my business name?

You can register your business name at the Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton - located at The Research Park, 1086 Modeland Road, Building 1050, Suite 100. Appointments are appreciated, but not necessary. Call (519) 332-1820 or e-mail . Fees may be paid by cash or credit card. Our business counsellors can also advise you on how to register your business name yourself.


Do I require a license to operate my business?

There are restrictions in most communities regarding the operation of a business from a residential property; many will require that you obtain a Home Occupation Permit. Although most businesses do not require a municipal license, you want to ensure that your business is operating from a location correctly zoned for the intended use. For zoning and licensing requirements contact your local municipality office.
Certain specialized businesses require licensing from various provincial ministries, for example: day cares, funeral homes, automotive garages and establishments that serve alcoholic beverages. If you're unsure about your business' licensing requirements, the Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton can help.

Should I incorporate my business?

A corporation has the legal rights and responsibilities of an individual, namely: to enter into contracts, to buy or sell assets, to hire or fire employees, to sue or be sued and to lend or borrow money-all independent of the shareholders who own it. Staff at the Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton are happy to discuss the pros and cons of incorporation and other forms of business. However, the final decision to incorporate should never be made without counsel from your accountant and the assistance of a lawyer.


Why should I prepare a business plan?

A business plan helps clarify your business concept and ensure that it makes financial and operational sense. It can be used to demonstrate the viability of your business when seeking investment capital or trying to borrow money. It also sets out short and long-term objectives, guidelines and milestones, and acts as a standard for comparison with actual performance after you start your business.

How do I prepare a business plan?

The Business Enterprise Centre of Sarnia-Lambton provides free one-on-one counselling service and allows you to progress and work at your own speed. Visit our office for a variety of free handouts and reference materials.

Do I need to get a vendor's permit?

You only require a Vendor's Permit if you are providing or selling a Taxable Good or Service with respect to Retail Sales Tax (RST or PST). If you do sell a Taxable Good or Service, the Vendor's Permit entitles you to charge and collect PST on behalf of the Province of Ontario. Possession of a Vendor's Permit also permits you to purchase inventory without paying PST to your supplier by using a Purchase Exemption Certificate. You can obtain a Vendor's Permit or any other information by contacting the Ministry of Revenue toll-free at 1-800-265-1540.
Over 80 guides, forms and bulletins are now available through TAX FAX. Call 1-800-482-9329.

Should I charge HST on my sales?

As long as your worldwide sales remain under $30,000 over four consecutive taxation quarters, you do not have to register as a participant in HST. If you do not register, you cannot charge or collect HST from your customers, nor are you required to file, report or remit HST information to Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. You will continue to pay HST on the goods and service you buy to operate your business.
If your annual sales meet or exceed $30,000, you must register as an HST participant and charge and collect HST from your customers. As a registered participant, you will continue to pay HST on the goods and services you buy to operate your business, but are entitled to deduct HST paid out of your revenues as an Input Tax Credit.
To obtain a Business Number or register for HST, call Canada Customs and Revenue Agency toll-free at 1-800-959-5525.